Molinia is a genus of two species of herbaceous perennial grasses in the family Poaceae, native to damp moorland in Europe and north and south-west Asia. Molinia fall into two groups - the tall varieties Molinia caerulea ssp.arundinacea which produce flower spikes up to two metres tall and the shorter ones, Molinia caerulea ssp. caerulea which grow to about one metre.
Both forms make wonderful ornamental grasses for our gardens. They are happy in most soils preferring those that are moist, in some sun, to emulate conditions in the wild. They will grow in part shade where the plants will tend to arch a little more or even flop. They are very adaptable and generally drought tolerant when established, in dry summers they just grow a little shorter. The plants grow in neutral to acid soils, but M. caerulea ssp.arundinacea is more tolerant of higher pH levels.
Molinia caerulea ssp.caerulea is a variety of shorter moor grass that has a unique character and undeniable charm. A mound forming plant that produces masses of tiny fragile looking flower stems in summer that are at first so delicate they are almost invisible.
The blue-green foliage typically grows to around 45cm (18in) tall. During early to mid-summer slender the plants produce masses of narrow but strong, flower spikes, they rise above the foliage in July to around 90cm (36in) tall. Producing masses of stems, together they form a floating sea of flower and movement.
Beautiful as this flower is Molinia are probably at their resplendent best as summer turns into autumn and their foliage turns a warm butter yellow. The flowers themselves are actually quite a dark purple for a short time when fresh but quickly start to fade to their trademark straw colour. In late summer the foliage begins to takes on its autumn colours. This starts slowly at first; working down from the tips of the flowers until the whole plant literally seems to shine the warmest of yellows.
Sowing: Sow indoors in late winter to early spring or sow in autumn.
Seeds germinate best at temperatures of around 20ºC (68ºF), sow in spring or at other times of year keep at around 20ºC (68ºF). Sow the seeds finely in trays containing well drained soil, or sow in cells, one large seed per cell. Cover the seeds with a very fine layer of sieved soil. Seeds germinate in about two to four weeks but can occasionally be slower and irregular. Keep in cooler conditions after germination occurs.
Germination to transplant usually takes around four to six weeks. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, take a small clump and put them all in a one-litre pot containing a gritty compost. Plants in containers should be looked after carefully and not allowed to stand in full drip trays. They will form a bushy plant and be ready to go into the garden in summer. After hardening off, plant out after all risk of frost. Grow in sun and in well drained soil.
This smaller species is suitable for planting in groups, three plants can be planted together in the garden, or up to seven plants per square metre for planting en masse.
All of the Molinia group are happiest in damp places, or at least in soils that do not dry out. However, if watered in drought conditions, they will also live in most normal garden soils.
As with many grasses, full sun is the best position, but the plants ares also happy in partial shade. They can be grown under the shade of trees if attention is given to watering. A damp soil on the side of a wall or fence that only gets afternoon or morning sun is no problem.
Molinia grasses require little maintenance and other than the fact that they may suffer a little in drought conditions if not watered, they have no pest or disease problems, one of the many reasons why growing ornamental grasses is so stress free for the gardener.
This grass has no winter interest since the flower stems disintegrate in late autumn with both the foliage and flower spikes breaking away, as they succumb to the first heavy snow Being deciduous they need cutting back in the spring ready for the new season though many will collapse under their own weight by around February time so all that is needed is a quick tidy in the spring. Stems can be left on border as natural mulch or can be composted. Large clumps may be divided in spring.
The flower heads can be dried and make interesting focal or secondary flowers in dried arrangements. To dry, cut the flower at the height of bloom and hang upside down in a cool, dark place to dry.
Perennial Borders, Naturalistic planting schemes, Flower arrangements, Low Maintenance, Specimen plant. Coastal.
Molinia is a genus of two species of herbaceous perennial grasses in the family Poaceae, native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. In its native habitat it grows in bogs, moorland and heathland. This grass is resistant to heath fires.
There are a number of cultivars and named varieties which must be propagated by division including three variegated forms of M.caerulea ssp. caerulea which tend to be smaller than the green parents. There are no variegated forms of M.caerulea ssp.arundinacea known at present.
The genus Molinia is named after Juan Ignacio Molina (1740-1829), a 19th century Chilean naturalist.
The species name caerulea is from the Latin meaning ‘blue’.
The sup-species name Arundinaceae means ‘resembling a reed’. Arundo is a Latin name for a reed grass.
Molinia caerulea subsp arundinacea is often shortened to Molinia arundinaceae and is pronounced moh-LIN-ee-ah ah-run-din-AH-see-ah.
The flowers are often tinted purple hence the common name of ‘Purple Moor Grass’, it is also commonly refered to as the Tall Moor Grass. In Europe it can be found with other similar names such as Moor grass, Garden-moor grass, Giant purple moor grass, Tube-moor grass.
This grass was traditionally called 'pipe straw' which originates from the hollow stem of the plant which originally was used to clean the stem of a pipe.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 50mg Average Seed Count 60 seeds Common Name Dwarf Moor Grass Family Poaceae Genus Molinia Species caerulea ssp.caerulea Hardiness Hardy Perennial Height Foliage 45cm (18in), Flowers 100cm (36in) Spread 45cm (18in) Position Full sun or partial shade